February 6, 2014 by wcobserver
-By Observer Staff-
It’s been six months since the hot August day last year when the West Fork Friends of the Library became the owners of the a landmark property down the street from the Municipal Library. The group’s eighty plus members hit the ground running and will soon have the newly named and newly purposed former church building ready for a variety of community events and gatherings. Named Library Hall, the Friends of the Library’s(FOL) mission to serve the needs of the library which has become a focus of community activity in recent years, with over 26,000 visits a year from area patrons. As a result, space for programs, meeting space, storage and other library services has shrunk. The Library Hall will help alleviate that overcrowding.
The organization’s by-laws required a vote of the membership to allow ownership of real estate. The members approved the new direction along with pledges to help get the needed repairs and initial expenses covered. No tax money goes toward the project. Income will come from patron donations, grants, and user fee donations along with fund raising events such as the upcoming “Friday Night Follies” which will showcase local talent. Also, unneeded items from the building and donated items will be offered at a Benefit Sale at the Hall on Friday February 28.
Space will be available soon for group and club meetings, social events and eventually space devoted to display of some local historical artifacts. Those interested can check at the library for an application for Hall use when the building is ready.
Library Hall is managed by Jane Bryant who is supervising the make-over and will oversee day to day operations. She shared some of her observations about the project in a recent email to the Observer.
“We’re moving ahead slowly but deliberately. We spent all day last Friday cleaning the building. Then at 4 p.m. we left with a trailer of pews and returned at 6 p.m. in the dark with 4 huge and heavy display cases. It wasn’t easy to find four strapping, available men who could come at a moment’s notice to load and unload those cases, but we did. We all were exhausted from that day,“ Bryant told the Observer.
The volunteers’ efforts aren’t limited to cleaning and moving. They are contributing according to their talents and interests.
Bryant continued, “…[other people] and I are trying to be involved in every aspect of the building, from the strategic planning, the policy making, the cleaning, the prep for the sale, the tours for drive by guests, the planning of events, the bills, the phone calls, the emails…The strategic planning meetings are progressing… and we all want to be part of the process.” Bryant added, “This is a people’s project, a community project. We’ve actually got folks who want to be a part of this whole process!”
Realistic skepticism based on the size of the project relative to the size of the FOL organization surfaced during discussions prior to the vote to acquire the property. However the FOL leadership seems realistic and confident about the direction and timeline for having the building fully utilized by early spring. Meanwhile, there’s winter. Jane Bryant explains, “I know what the first heating bill was for December. January’s is even higher. Several hundred dollars. I know we don’t want to use the funds ear marked for other projects for utilities. But that’s the reality. Some folks give money just to keep the doors open, the building heated, and the water running. It’s not glamorous but it’s the facts of living.”
Any and all West Fork area residents are welcome to get involved in this project with monetary contributions or “sweat equity.”
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